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Doula Work

Team Member Spotlight: Meet Amy Durham!

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Team Member Spotlight: Meet Amy Durham!

Amy is a birth doula and placenta encapsulation specialist serving Northern Virginia and DC, as well as a trained postpartum doula. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since our opening in 2016.

Amy is a birth doula and placenta encapsulation specialist serving Northern Virginia and DC, as well as a trained postpartum doula. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since our opening in 2016.

  1. When did you find your Passion, or when did it find you?

I have always loved babies and children, from the time I was young.  I was the neighborhood babysitter for everyone, and nannied extensively during my college years. After graduating from college with a dual degree in child development and psychology, I struggled to find a career that I truly enjoyed going to day after day.   It wasn’t until years later that I had a doula at my own births, and I saw what an enormous difference she could make in the life of a woman on one of her most vulnerable and yet powerful days--that’s when the lightbulb went off for me. I felt respected, empowered, confident, cared for, loved, and safe.  My doula knew me, and what was important to me, and she was there to help me reach those goals. I knew from then on, that someday I wanted to provide that same kind of support for other women. I knew that women deserved better than the care they were being given. And I became passionate about providing that.  Getting the chance to hold a new baby doesn’t hurt either ;)

2. If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?

Don’t sweat the small stuff (and it almost always is small stuff).  If it isn’t going to matter a year from now, it’s not worth stressing yourself out about now.



3. What makes you proud of yourself?

When I come across a challenge or an obstacle in my life, and I work through it.  When I don’t hide from it, or throw up my hands and and say it’s too much. My mantra this year is “I can do hard things.”



4. What do you love about your life?

My family and my home.  Being in the company of my 4 children and my husband, in our cozy home, where people know each other and love one another anyway,  is a gift. Being able to have my guard down and just laugh, relax, and to be myself with them is so nice.

mom of 4




5. What did you want to be when you grew up?

The CEO of a big company.  Ha! I used to dream of wearing designer suits, living in a McMansion, with an assistant, a driver, and a personal cook.  And no children. Anyone who knows me know would laugh about that! This is the furthest from who I am now as a person. Give me jeans and a tee shirt, and a squishy baby anyday!

hospital doula




6. What are your top three values?

Kindness.  Trustworthiness.  Determination.




7. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

I am a major book worm.  My husband eyes my book collection and says I have a problem.  I say the only problem is where to fit another bookcase ;) I’m not sure I can choose just one favorite.  But I can tell you that I really enjoy historical fiction. Reading about the lives of people who have come before me, the adversities and challenges they have overcome, the lessons that history shows us for our current times, and going on adventures vicariously through their eyes beyond my little suburban neighborhood, is exciting!




8. How do you like to be told you’re doing a good job?

When people tell me that something I did  for them made a difference in their life, or when they notice a specific thing I  excelled at and let me know, it is very rewarding! My Love Language is definitely “words of affirmation”.




9. How would you describe your (doula) style?

I believe birth is a blend of  art and science. I work using using a balance of holistic, intuitive care and evidenced based knowledge.  I am very much a hands on doula, who enjoys providing massage, Rebozo work and positioning techniques with my birth clients.  I also try my best to connect with people heart to heart, as this is what keeps them feeling calm, safe, encouraged and positive during labor.


10. Describe yourself in 5 words

Compassionate

Respectful

Creative

Open minded

Easy going




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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Casey Nelson

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Casey Nelson

When did you find your Passion, or when did it find you?

Casey is a DCH 5 Star Mentor, birth and postpartum doula who has worked with families for 11 years, and has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2016.

Casey is a DCH 5 Star Mentor, birth and postpartum doula who has worked with families for 11 years, and has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2016.

Working with women and families has been something I have loved ever since I can remember. My mom always tells the story of her knowing that this type of work was where I was going to end up because in fourth grade, I was the only child she knew excited to rush off the bus at 4pm to be home in time for A Baby Story on TLC. I continued to love being around babies and babysat and nannied through my undergraduate degree in chemistry and my MPH with a focus on women’s health. I learned was a doula was in college, interned at a natural birth center and was hooked from there!

What makes you proud of yourself?

I am always seeking to be better and know more and am proud that I am someone who works hard to get to where I want to be. I don’t let things get me down for too long. If something doesn’t go to plan, I roll with it, work to understand why and equip myself to change it for the next time.

An example of this, in the spirit of International Cesarean Awareness month, is my birth experience with my son. Unexpectedly, I found myself needing a c-section and although I know that it was the best decision for both of us at the time, I still had to mourn the birth that I had always planned. I am now preparing for a VBAC with my second baby next month but have made a plan with my provider that I feel great about, even if this baby also needs to be born by csection.

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If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?

That everything life is temporary. If you are feeling bad about yourself in a certain area? Change it! Don’t like how you look? Change it! Feeling doubt? Prove it wrong! You have the ability and the power to constantly invent and re-invent yourself – you are only done growing and changing when YOU decide that you are.

What do you love about your life?


I have always, always wanted to be a mom and a wife, I get to do both of these things every day and although it’s not always easy, it is rarely, if ever boring! I am incredibly lucky that I am able to do what I love and come home to my best boys at the end of the day.

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What did you want to be when you grew up?

Somewhat related to the passion question – I grew up wanting to be an OBGYN!

How do you like to be told you’re doing a good job?

I am a big written words person, I keep cards that people have written me for YEARS, much to my husband’s dismay, literally though I have a box of cards and notes from high school. Another fun fact, I never delete my text messages either.

I like to know that I’ve helped make the lives of those around me a little easier and knowing that something really small made me come to mind.  I also love hearing updates from families I’ve worked with, too! I actually can’t believe that my very first birth doula client is about to have a seven year old!

If you had any superpower, what would it be?

To freeze time, hands down! I would take so many naps, get so much stuff done and DEFINITELY play some pranks on my husband while he was frozen.

How would you describe your (doula) style?

My style as a doula is pretty true to my style as a person – laid back, go with the flow, some humor sprinkled in there to lighten the mood and full of fun facts! One of the things that I value most is relationships, so I will strive to connect with the families I am working alongside, I feel like it makes everything easier, more comfortable and much more fun!

Describe yourself in 5 words

Loyal, supportive, adventurous (but not so much with food), compassionate, encouraging.

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How to do Baby Massage from a Postpartum Doula

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How to do Baby Massage from a Postpartum Doula

Doulas of Capitol Hill is happy to have several postpartum doulas on our team who can teach parents infant massage. In this video below we learn tips from Casey Nelson, birth and postpartum doula.

Also on the DCH team is Kim Stinger, Licensed Massage Therapist and postpartum doula, who provides our in-home prenatal, induction, and postnatal massage, as well as infant massage education to her postpartum doula clients. As an expert on massage, Kim is able to share the benefits, as well as teach techniques to new parents, grandparents, and family members.

Kim says, “infant massage can be used as a tool to bond with baby, reduce crying, and to help your baby relax and sleep. It can be a great tool to use when establishing bedtime routines.” To schedule an in-home postpartum support session and learn these techniques from Kim please contact us today!

Doulas of Capitol Hill has experienced postpartum doulas and licensed massage therapists who can teach baby massage techniques to new parents in the comfort of their own home. Contact us today to schedule a session!

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Resource Guide for Black Moms in the DMV

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Resource Guide for Black Moms in the DMV

The creation of this resources guide was a collaborative project by some of the black women who work with Doulas of Capitol Hill and our sister company Doulas of Prince George’s County. Spear-heading the project was Charissa Young, birth and postpartum doula, prenatal yoga instructor, and owner of Luxe Mamma, a company which creates luxury gift boxes for new moms as well as services for pregnant moms.

Additional resource collaboration came from Jade Hillery, birth doula with Doulas of Capitol Hill and reproductive health champion. Jade has her Masters in Public Health in Health Education and Promotion.

It was important to all of us at DCH and DPG that this guide be created for black women and by black women and have only auxiliary support by those who are not black women . We did try to include as many resources of businesses owned by women /people of color in the DMV or for those national organizations or resources whose purpose is explicitly to further the health, well-being, and support of black women.

Thank you to both Charissa and Jade and all the providers on this list!

The guide is by no means exhaustive, and we are sure to have missed some fantastic resources and providers. If you have a provider you think we should know about please send us an email or message us on Facebook or Instagram. Additionally, if there is a category you think we omitted, please let us know! This is YOUR story.

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Acupuncturist-

Fertile Living- Njemile Carol Jones

Mahlia Joyce, L.Ac.

Safiyyah Camara

Advocacy-

Black Mamas Matter Alliance

Black Women Birthing Justice

Center for Reproductive Rights

Mamatoto Village



Birth Trainings-

Doula Training International- includes “cultural humility” in all their trainings and have scholarships for doulas of color

Shafia Monroe Consulting- doula training, cultural competency, motivational speaking



Birth Doulas and Postpartum Doulas, Placenta Encapsulation, Overnight Newborn Care-

Doulas of Prince George’s County, serving all of the DMV

Blog-

Mocha Manual

Books-

Battling Over Birth: Black Women and the Maternal Health Care Crisis- Julia Ophara, Helena Arega, Dantia Hudson, Linda Jones, and Talita Oseguera

Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth- J. Chinyere Oparah and A. Bonaparte

The Body Is Not an Apology- Sonya Renee Taylor

Breastfeeding-

Black Breastfeeding Week

Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association

Black Women Do Breastfeed (non-profit org)

Hospitals more likely to formula feed children of black mothers, study says.

Charnise Littles Doulas of Capitol Hill and Doulas of Prince George’s County

PG County Breastfeeding Coalition, coming soon!

DC Breastfeeding Coalition

Chiropractor-

Palmercare, Dr. Ted Davidson, Dr. Aldwin Martin, DC location

TruCentered Chiropractic -Bryant Harris, Annapolis, MD



Documentary-

The American Dream: Birth in America for Black Mothers

Groups-

Mocha Moms Northern PG County Chapter

Mocha Moms Inc Members in DC, MD, and VA
Mocha Moms Inc Waldorf

Herbal-

Ancestral Wisdom of Medicinal Plants

Luxe Mamma- Charissa Young

Mama Luvs Herbals- Jamila Talbot

Massage

Kim Stinger- Doulas of Capitol Hill,  Licensed Massage Therapist providing prenatal, postpartum, and induction massage.

Midwives

Anaya Sangode-Ayoka, GW Medical Faculty Associates

Claudia Booker Birthing Hands

Kandace Thomas GW Medical Faculty Associates

Dr. Kai Parker DC Midwife, Natropathic doctor

Ebony Marcelle- Community of Hope Family Health and Birth Center

Mental Heath-

Akoma Counseling Concepts- Silver Spring, MD

Diversified Lifestyle Counseling Services

Sunflower Wellness, Lindsay Vick, hypnotherapy, reiki, Alexandria, VA

Therapy for Black Girls Directory

Naturopathic Doctors-

All Things Natural Wellness Center Dr. Veda Johnson and Dr. Paula Stewart

Dr. Kai Parker DC Midwife, Natropathic doctor

Nutrition-

TaKisha August, nutritionist

Muriel Vanderpuye, personal chef and postpartum doula with Doulas of Capitol Hill

OBGYN-


Charlene Carter - George Washington Medical Faculty Associates

Moore OBGYN

Podcasts-

Therapy for Black Girls (by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford)

Pediatricians-

Healthy Home Pediatric Dr. Jalan Burton, Capitol Hill

Washington Pediatrics- Dr. Nicole Lang

Pediatric Dentists-

Children’s Choice Dental Dr Jonelle Anamelechi

Rose Park Pediatric Dentistry Dr Avionne Hill

Yoga-

Charissa Young- Luxe Mamma


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Braxton-Hicks, Breaking Water, Birth Tubs, and Breastfeeding: World Water Day

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Braxton-Hicks, Breaking Water, Birth Tubs, and Breastfeeding: World Water Day

Today is #WorldWaterDay which was created by the United Nations to bring awareness to the global crisis of access to safe drinking water, particularly those most vulnerable are  marginalized groups like women, children, indigenous peoples, disabled people, and refugees. In 2010, the UN recognized “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” The 2019 theme is “Leaving no one behind.”  

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Today we’d like to share our top water-related tips for pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding.  For every share on Facebook or Instagram of our blog we’ll donate $1 to Water for People.

The World Health Organization estimates that for every $1 spent on water, sanitation and hygiene programs, there is about a $4 return in productivity.

Water is life and that is true even more true during pregnancy when access to clean water means a healthier pregnancy.  

Access during labor means an environment with less risk for easily avoidable infections (hello, hand washing!) and preventable deaths.  Availability of clean drinking water for new mothers and babies means healthier families who grow and thrive.

This article in the Huffington Post explains many of the direct and indirect consequences to lack of clean water to women and girls and how that relates to maternal health.

Thankfully, our clients in DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland who are hiring a doula, overnight newborn care, or breastfeeding specialist aren’t likely to be personally impacted by lack of clean water access in their homes, birth center, or the hospital where they deliver.  So today we’re giving our 4 Doula Tips about water for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum!

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Braxton Hicks-  

You’re up at night Googling “What does a contraction feel like?”  and you’re not sure if it’s time to call your doula. You remember she insisted you CALL (not text or email) if ANYTHING was potentially happening, so you call. She listens intently to what you’re feeling, and agrees, it could be labor, or it could be Braxton-Hicks, aka “practice contractions.”  She suggests trying these three steps and to call her back, reassuring her that “real labor” contractions will get longer, stronger, and closer together. If this doesn’t happen after trying these three steps, it’s probably safe to say your body is just practicing.

Braxton Hicks or real labor contractions


Birth Tub-

You’ve seen tv and movies of childbirth.  From Katherine Heigl’s screams in Knocked Up to Melissa McCarthy banging on a drum during The Back Up Plan to basically everyone in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, all of them have one thing in common, the women are freaking out.  

But at Doulas of Capitol Hill we’ve seen LOTS of births (probably more than the filmmakers in Hollywood) and shake our heads.  It is possible to find real comfort beyond the epidural (which we also fully support!)


We know, and studies agree, that laboring and pushing in the water has a lot of advantages.  That’s why when you search “waterbirth in DC” or “waterbirth in Northern Virginia” you may see our name come up; we rent birth tubs for people to use at home.  

We also support clients who are delivering at hospitals and birth centers where laboring or delivery in the water is an option. We’re especially looking forward to the return of tubs at George Washington University Hospital!

where can I have a water birth in DC, Northern Virginia, Maryland

Breaking Water-

It’s that moment that everyone fears will happen at the worst time, like when you’re in your bosses office!  People make jokes about it, too, which makes it even more nerve wracking. One mom told us about her own experience with a person working at Wal-Mart who thought they’d be funny and followed the mom around the store with a mop “just in case” her water broke while she was shopping.  She was only 7 months pregnant! Some people just have no idea!

Did my water break?

Breastfeeding-

If staying hydrated during pregnancy is important then drinking enough water during breastfeeding is equally important.  While breast milk works on a supply and demand system, meaning the more you remove the more that it signals your body to make, dehydration can be a huge factor for some people in low milk supply.  If you’re wondering “how much water should I drink while I’m breastfeeding?” Here’s what Kelly Mom (a fantastic resource for breastfeeding) had to say:

“Pumping moms may find that they need to pay more attention to remembering to stay hydrated.” - Kelly Mom.com, Do Breastfeeding Mothers Need Extra Calories or Fluid? By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC.

“Pumping moms may find that they need to pay more attention to remembering to stay hydrated.” - Kelly Mom.com, Do Breastfeeding Mothers Need Extra Calories or Fluid? By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC.

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Jacquelin Knighton

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Jacquelin Knighton

Jacquelin Knighton is a birth doula, postpartum doula, placenta Encapsulator, and childbirth educator. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2017 and is the co-owner of our sister company,    Doulas of Prince George’s County   , which also serves the entire DMV.

Jacquelin Knighton is a birth doula, postpartum doula, placenta Encapsulator, and childbirth educator. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since 2017 and is the co-owner of our sister company, Doulas of Prince George’s County, which also serves the entire DMV.

VBAC and breastfeeding
  1. When did you find your Passion, or when did it find you?

    I decided to become a doula based on my own birth experiences. My son was born via C-section which was a horrible experience for me and I ended up with postpartum depression. When my husband and I decided to get pregnant with my daughter, I knew I was going to do everything differently. I wanted to have a VBAC (Vaginal birth after cesarean,) so I hired a doula, started seeing my chiropractor….all the things. My daughter was born vaginally, and it was the most perfect birth experience for me. It was then I decided that I wanted to help other women have the same birth experience I did with my daughter. I wanted to educate them on their options and help them learn what they can say no to,  and become advocates for themselves. So I became a doula. Later, I opened up Doulas of PG County with Emily to serve black women like myself who are dealing with maternal health disparities and racism in birthing spaces.

  2. If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?

    Life goes on. I have found solace in these three words many of times. When life feels like it’s going to swallow you whole, one thing remains true about it... It goes on. Think about that when you want to give up, you are heartbroken, or can’t find your way. Tomorrow is a new day.

  3. What do you love about your life?

    I love that when I stop and reflect, I realize that I am happy everyday of my life. Maybe not all day but every day and I have my husband, and children for that. I have created a life for myself that brings me so much joy and it’s not lost on me that God has made it all happen.

  4. What did you want to be when you grew up?

    A lawyer and a mom.

  5. How do you like to be told you’re doing a good job?

    My love language is gifts.

  6. Who is your role model and why?

    Michelle Obama because she embodies the very essence of elegance, persistence, grace and beauty.

  7. If you had any superpower, what would it be?

    Teleportation.

  8. How would you describe your (doula) style?

    Educational and warm with a bit of sarcasm.

  9. Describe yourself in 5 words.

    Loyal, blunt, trustworthy, optimistic, Integrity.

Doulas of PG County
Doula in PG County

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2019: Better Climbing

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2019: Better Climbing

Each year Doulas of Capitol Hill chooses a single word to be a guide for the year ahead. Our year for 2019 is “Better.”  

We identified three specific ways in which we can be “better” than we were a year ago: Communicators, Cooperators, and Climbers.  We chose these three target areas because they are also areas in which three year-olds are making strides in their development, and in February 2019 our company will turn three!

Today we focus on the last of our three areas of improvement: Climbing.  

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When we thought about three year-old’s we know some of them can be quite daring and can be scaling furniture, or at least the heights of the playground. We thought of our climbing skills in terms of setting goals for the year ahead.

 Here are some of our big goals:

  1. We are so happy to offer a diverse team of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) as well as Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs) among our breastfeeding experts to serve Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland. In 2019 we have set the goal to be in-network providers under several health care plans, so that our clients have an easier time getting the support they deserve.  Currently, our clients receive a superbill which they can submit to their insurance for reimbursement. We’re also collecting data on who has successful reimbursement through HSA and FSA as well as for insurance, in a post-support questionnaire.

  2. Our next goal is about helping our clients have more information to make their selection in choosing a birth doula or postpartum doula.  We already have our 20 Point Profile, which is an awesome way for people wondering “how do I choose a doula?” This year we plan to feature a different team member each month on our Team Member Spotlight. We find these interviews are a great way for people to read more about the strengths, personality, and qualifications of the person they will choose for this momentous time in their lives.  In the past we’ve featured Emily Smith, Nicole Bruno, Ashley Woolsey, Kaely Harrod, and Kim Hawkins. We hope you’ll stay tuned for more Team Member Spotlights throughout 2019!

  3. Let me tell you, doulas love acronyms.  Every single doula training or childbirth class we know (including group classes with Nested) teaches the acronym B.R.A.I.N which stands for Benefits. Risks. Alternatives. Intuition. do Nothing. This is a fantastic tool for parents to use during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum around decision making. For 2019 we have set what we feel are S.M.A.R.T goals around the number of clients served in and around the Beltway, as well as those who follow us on Facebook and Instagram around the world.  S.M.A.R.T stand for Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. And Timely. Hopefully, by having the experience of 3 years under our belts, we’ll reach all of our 2019 goals!

Thank you to all of our clients, community, colleagues, and those cheering us along for your support throughout the years! Here’s to a BETTER year ahead!



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2019: Better Cooperation

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2019: Better Cooperation

Each year Doulas of Capitol Hill chooses a single word to be a guide for the year ahead. Our year for 2019 is “Better.”  

We identified three specific ways in which we can be “better” than we were a year ago.  We strive to be Communicators, aim to be better at Cooperation, and intend to better at Climbing.  We chose these three target areas as they are also “milestones” reached by three year-olds and our company turns three in February.

2019_ BETTER COOPERATION.jpg

Today, we will share the ways in which Doulas of Capitol Hill plans to be better at Cooperation in 2019.

1. We’ve started 2019 out with a large team of birth doulas, postpartum doulas, placenta encapsulators, and lactation consultants. We value having a big team because it means more choices and options for our clients.  Doulas of Capitol Hill, and our sister company Doulas of Prince George’s County, can be a one-stop-shop for all things pregnancy, birth, and baby-related. You want an expert by your side and we are honored to be invited into your story!

However, a challenge to any group as it grows is continuing to be in relationships with one another where we are known and our differences are celebrated.  We need to have spaces created for us where we can be authentic, where assumptions are left aside, and non-judgmental listening is made a priority.  

To address this challenge we’ve launched our 5 Star Mentor program!  

The 5 Star Mentors are a select group of doulas who are know for their experience level and leadership qualities. They will facilitate small groups of 3-5 other professionals, meet regularly, learn from each other, connect as a community of professionals, and receive mentorship, when needed.

One of Doulas of Capitol Hill’s Three Guiding Principles is “Grow the Profession.” 2019 will be a year for us to become BETTER at COOPERATION, so our professionals can grow together!

2. The 5 Star Mentor program benefits our professionals, yes.  But it also benefits our clients in two ways.. First, each of the small groups will be hosting one of our quarterly DCH Village meet-ups. These are in-person events we hold for our clients to hang out with other parents.  Some of examples of past DCH Village get-togethers were wine and painting at Wine & Design in Alexandria, picnic at the Winery at Bull Run, cry-baby matinee at AMC Courthouse in Arlington, Brewery get-together at Biergarten Haus in DC, Baby Bar Takeover at Boxcar Tavern in Capitol Hill, and our Snowflake Diaper Drive to benefit the DC Diaper Bank.  

We know our clients choose the birth doula or postpartum doula to invite into this intimate time in their lives with a mix of experience, personality, and trust.  

For expectant parents for whom experience is the primary priority, the second way this 5 Star Mentor program benefits clients is that we’ve made it easy to identify the most seasoned doulas on our team, showing who the 5 Star Mentors are at the top of their website bios.

3.  The third way Doulas of Capitol Hill will continue to focus on COOPERATION in 2019 is with our Affiliates and Partners, who are other local business we love and who love us back!  

Shout-out to Nested, who offers all our group childbirth classes at their offices in Chevy Chase and at the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington, to Emily Souder of Nesting Space LLC, author of Birth Story Brave, and Concierge Physical Therapists, our long time affiliates offering in-home physical therapy to clients throughout the DMV.  

We’re happy to continue our affiliation with Motherhood Tabutiful, Lavender Retreat, Heidi Daniels the DC Birth Photographer, ICAN of NOVA, and Washington Pediatrics.  One new affiliate we recently joined up with is Fran Darnell of Dynamic Core, who offers her Dynamic Mama Pilates and coaching series at Rooted Pilates in Capitol Hill. Stay tuned for some new affiliates to join us this spring and later in the year as well!  

We believe when people support each other, incredible things happen.  

Doulas of Capitol Hill has an amazing group of skilled women who are passionate about the work we do supporting families. Author Paulo Coelho said “when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” We couldn’t agree more!




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2019: Better Communication

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2019: Better Communication

Each year Doulas of Capitol Hill chooses a single word to be a guide for the year ahead. Our year for 2019 is “Better.”  

2019_ Better Communication.jpg


In February of 2019 the company will celebrate its’ third birthday and with that came some reflection on what milestones and abilities three year-olds are reaching.

When compared to two year-olds, who are notoriously marked as “terrible,” three year old’s seem to be light-years ahead in their abilities. Not YOUR two year-old, of course, but all the others!  

We identified three specific ways in which three year-old’s are “better” than they were a year ago.  They are better Communicators, they are better at Cooperation, and they are better at Climbing.

Today, we will share the ways Doulas of Capitol Hill plans to be better at Communication in 2019.

  1. In January 2019 we have added to our client evaluation form a survey of our clients success rates getting reimbursed by their health insurance for services.  Additionally, if they had success, or lack of, with payment or reimbursement through a Health Savings Account or Flex Spending account to pay for doula services or to pay for lactation support, we want to know! Is my doula covered by insurance?  And can I pay for my doula with my HSA or with my FSA? These are questions we know people are asking, so we’re making it our intention to get some answers!

  2. As a team we are going to be communicating Better as well, by adding in a weekly behind-the-scenes Zoom call for our professionals to communicate together about the challenges and the wins we experience in supporting families through pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and the newborn period.  

  3. And lastly, we plan to see some new and unfolding ways of communicating with our clients by continuing to add things to our Client Portal, which is a password protected page on our website created exclusively for our clients, past, present, and future.  The Client Portal is a special collection of resources combined with DCH and our Affiliates and Partners. We can’t unveil all the goodies 2019 has in store, but one we are excited to give a hint about is a Birth Affirmations Printable. When our Birth Affirmation Printable is released we’ll be sure to practice good COMMUNICATION and let you all know!  

We want everyone to know that BETTER doesn’t mean that things were bad in the past.

It’s just an acknowledgement that we’re still learning and improving in the ways walk out our Three Guiding Principles: Support the Family, Build the Community, and Grow the Profession.  As always, we welcome your comments and feedback how we can be BETTER!



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Team Member Spotlight!  Meet Kim Hawkins

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Kim Hawkins

Kim Hawkins is a birth doula, postpartum doula, certified lactation counselor, placenta encapsulator, and childbirth educator. Kim is also a 5 Star Mentor with DCH. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since our launch in 2016.

Kim Hawkins is a birth doula, postpartum doula, certified lactation counselor, placenta encapsulator, and childbirth educator. Kim is also a 5 Star Mentor with DCH. She has been with Doulas of Capitol Hill since our launch in 2016.

  1. When did you find your Passion, or when did it find you?

    I knew I liked health subjects way back in high school when I found Anatomy class absolutely fascinating! That continued throughout college as I got my degree in Kinesiology and began to work at government fitness centers in 2007 when we first moved to DC. Fast forward to the birth of my first child and a career switch into Public Health policy. As I began to hear more and more about how the biggest differences being made in health was when there was one-on-one support,  my love of health, birth and support all combined in a huge AHA moment of my life. I wanted to work in a field I knew would bring joy and fulfillment into my life. I love seeing parents change from being nervous about what to expect and then settle into their parenthood journey.

  2. What makes you proud of yourself?

    I am proud I am showing my kids that work can be exhausting but incredibly rewarding. My favorite birthday card was one from my daughter telling me she loves what I do. It was reaffirming that even though this job sometimes takes me away from them at odd hour, it’s worth it. I’m proud that I work on teaching them you shouldn’t depend on other for your own happiness and having resiliency in life is important. I’m proud that some day they will see you’re never too late to follow joy and passion in your life. I’m also proud that I am always wanting to learn and continue on a path of creating authenticity in my life.

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3. What do you love about your life?

What I love about my life is it’s always teaching me new things. Growing and stretching can be painful but getting on the other side can be rewarding. I of course love my husband and children, parenting is hard and humbling work but the moments of pure joy can sustain for a while. And I love wine. And coffee. I’m a cliché but there is a reason they exist!

4. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I can’t even remember! I think they always involved some type of service (teacher, nurse, etc.). I also look back and realize there wasn’t a lot of discussion of what options were available when I was a little girl. I hope to keep changing that conversation with my kids.

5. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

I am a huge reader, always have been, and while my ability to find time to read has changed over the years there is still nothing I love more then going to a book store and buying books. My all time favorite book is “I Know This Much is True” By Wally Lamb. I have re-read many books over the years (shout out The Baby-Sitter’s Club books all through my childhood - the Disney Cruise is their best special book and I am Dawn FWIW) and this is one I try to read every year or two. Since becoming a parent I’ve noticed I read books and watch movies through different eyes and books and movies I either re-read or watch have changed them for me. For example, in Home Alone I now just think how annoying Kevin is and feel the panic of the mom in the movie!

6. How do you like to be told you’re doing a good job?

  1. By being directly told I am doing a good job!

  2. Hearing from clients, whether it’s a week or years later on how they are doing is very humbling to know I was there when they became a family.


7. Who is your role model and why?

Women who keep fighting to find their path and stumble along the way but persevere. It’s hard work and never ending but seeing others keeping to fight help inspire me to not give up my goals and dreams.

8. If you had any superpower, what would it be?

To be able to finish my to do list every day! So freeze time? Work at super speed?


9. How would you describe your (doula) style?

I use humor to help get through parts and honesty I feel goes a long way. Women in labor don’t want to be placated or lied to, they want honestly and authenticity as they go through the humbling experience that is giving birth to your child. Even when a mom is not able to fully communicate how she feeling or what is going on I’m always remembering she is herself and it may be deep inside but speaking to her directly and honestly the entire time is important!

10. Describe yourself in 5 words

  1. Honest

  2. Authentic

  3. Funny

  4. Nurturing

  5. Fiery (my mama bear can come out fiercely and quickly!)


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2019 Will Be BETTER!

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2019 Will Be BETTER!

By Ashley Woolsey, Social Media Manager

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In September, Laura Macone, clinical social worker and therapist in Alexandria, came to an #ICAN meeting. When touching on the subject of #postpartumdepression she asked the question “could this be better?” This question stuck with our founder, Emily. Not just for the subject of #PPD but with all things related to motherhood, family, and even with our agency as a whole. Emily has chosen the word “better” to be our word for 2019 in an attempt to ask herself, our doulas, and our team, “could this be better?” It is a non judgmental question, which has always been one of the things we pride our agency on being. It isn’t saying things were, or are bad. It’s just asking, “could they be better?”

And what does that mean for our agency moving forward? If the answer is a simple, yes it could be, then how can we, not necessarily fix it, but change it in a way that is more efficient and overall, well, better? In the weeks to follow we will try to break this word down a little more and let you all in on how we intend to make our agency a more improved and overall better experience for everyone involved. Because we are in the business of helping families and we consider you all a part of our Doulas of Capitol Hill family. So lets make 2019 better for all of us! 

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Kaely Harrod

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Team Member Spotlight! Meet Kaely Harrod

Kaely Harrod is a birth doula with Doulas of Capitol Hill and our sister company, Doulas of Prince George’s County since 2018. She is also an accredited La Leche League Leader since 2014.

Kaely Harrod is a birth doula with Doulas of Capitol Hill and our sister company, Doulas of Prince George’s County since 2018. She is also an accredited La Leche League Leader since 2014.

  1. When did you find your Passion, or when did it find you?.

    I found my passion for helping women as a college student. I now support all birthing people in an non-judgemental way, but my passion was birthed from an inherent desire to help women specifically. I often dreamed of how to meet needs that were gaps in women’s lives, whether that was encouragement, health and nutrition, housing, abuse healing, and trauma care, etc. Out of that desire, I began assisting friends in various ways as there was the need. It didn’t birth anything organized until I decided to become an accredited La Leche League Leader in 2014. After entering the world of postpartum care I found that this specific season of pregnancy, birth and postpartum care was a specific passion that fit perfectly within my passion to help and encourage women. I find great fulfillment from offering support and encouragement to people in this phase of their lives. It is a beautiful thing to be allowed into this deeply personal and vulnerable time and given a space to participate, strengthen and advocate.

  2. If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give ‘em your best tip, what would it be?

    Be kind to everyone! No matter who they are! Even if they are not kind to you. Kindness is always worthwhile and needed more than ever. Someone else’s meanness does not need to dictate your level of kindness.

  3. What makes you proud of yourself?

    I am proud of my faithfulness and loyalty to other people and myself. I am true to who I am and consistent in what I can give in my relationships. If I’m your friend, I’m your friend and I’ll be loyal and faithful in that relationship. It’s something that’s easier for me to give to others than it is to give to myself, so I’m a work in progress on that front. But I am getting a lot better at giving myself loyal love in my desires and passions and preferences without judgment or shame. That means a lot to me, so it’s something I’m very proud of in myself.

  4. What do you love about your life?

    I love that I have a loving husband who is my biggest fan ever and best friend. He supports me in all my dreams and passions and sees things in me that I can’t see in myself. He’s also just loads of fun and my favorite person to talk to! I also love that we have 3 fun kiddos that are a part of our mix.

  5. What did you want to be when you grew up?

    I wanted to be a ballerina or a firefighter! :) As a child, I remember my mom telling me that I could probably do both of those as neither requires typical 9-5 hours!

  6. What are your top three values?

    Honesty, Integrity, and Loyalty.

  7. Tell me about your favorite book or movie.

    “Favorites” are a thing that changes for me kind of often, so right now I’m loving The Great British Baking Show. I have also gotten my children and husband into it, which is super fun. I also really enjoy watching Master Chef Jr! Those kids are hilarious!

  8. How do you like to be told you’re doing a good job?

    I like to be told specifics about what was/is good. So let’s say I’m teaching my children (I’m a homeschooler as well as a doula!), and someone wants to tell me I’m doing it well. I would prefer to be told something like “I see your child(ren) acting empathetically toward others and I know that is a result of your teaching! Keep doing that! It’s slow going, but it’s taking hold!”  Rather than just saying “your kids are so smart!” Or something more generic like that.

  9. Who is your role model and why?

    My role model is my mother. She has faced many struggles and is persistent and strong in the midst of and in spite of them. I have seen her grow and develop as a mother over the years and that has been a learning opportunity for me, too.  She’s a consistent support to us all as adults now while still doing what she loves! She is also my biggest encourager in homeschooling outside of my husband. If I’m ever doubting my work with my children I can call her up for a quick pep talk that changes everything. Since we share that passion for encouraging others she is a role model for me in that as well!

  10. If you had any superpower, what would it be?

    I’m the kind of person who can’t just answer this quickly. Many of my friends can say “Flying” or “xray vision” immediately when asked this. However, I find that there are so many pros to all kinds of superpowers, that it’s very hard to choose! I think the most practical for my life would be to teleport! Or time travel! Don’t hold me to that, though, as it may change depending on my season of life. :)

  11. How would you describe your (doula) style?

    I would describe my doula style as relaxed, supportive and taking my cues from my clients. I tend to want to learn a lot about who my clients are and how they operate in order to meet them in that space and not try to force them into my world of operation. I have the knowledge base to support and comfort in a variety of ways, but I want to match those comfort measures with who my client is and what they value in the birth!  

  12. Describe yourself in 5 words

    1. Fun, Honest, Loyal, Loving, and Encouraging.

Kaely, bottom right, with all of her siblings!

Kaely, bottom right, with all of her siblings!

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What Is A Dula?

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What Is A Dula?

A doula (not dula!)  provides personal support services for women and families during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. In labor, the doula provides help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. She (or sometimes he) comforts the woman with touch, hot or cold packs, beverages, warm baths and showers, and other supportive measures. The doula is attuned to the laboring woman and her support team so she is always a step ahead of everyone's needs, desires and questions. She also assists the woman and her partner to become informed of the various options, both before and during labor. Perhaps the most crucial role of the doula is providing continuous emotional reassurance and comfort. A good doula will not make decisions for their clients nor will they project their own values and goals onto the laboring woman.

A postpartum doula provides similar support and education, but is focused on promoting the bond between you and your baby and ensuring your needs are met. This assistance comes in various forms, such as feeding (breast, pump, formula, etc), providing newborn care, cooking, cleaning, household management, sibling support and helping new parents become confident in their new role. Similarly to how a birth doula doesn't replace the role or importance of your partner, a postpartum doula is not a replacement for grandma (or anyone else who is personally invested).  We take care of the busy work, provide up to date suggestions or advice if wanted, and focus on the family so everyone gets a chance to bond and spend time doing the real thing they want to do- hold the baby!

Many people can't picture exactly what a doula can really help with in birth and postpartum. Don't worry, you're not alone! Still on the fence about hiring a doula? 

 15 Questions to Determine if a Doula Would be Beneficial to You During Your Birth or Postpartum Period.

1.       Generally your doctor or midwife sees you for approximately 5 minutes every 2-3 hours (or longer!) once you arrive at the hospital. Are you and your support team prepared for this scenario or would you like more consistent and continuous support, often starting in the home?

2.       Do you have a support person that knows various coping techniques, helping you manage labor and pushing with an epidural?  Do they know how to support the entire labor if you are not seeking an epidural?

3.       Do you know how you manage stressful situations? What about your partner or mom/sister/friend?

4.       Do you know what to do if your contractions start and stop over the course of hours or days?

5.       If your labor is long will someone be able to provide a break for your birth partner/coach to rest/eat so that he/she is able to provide support once baby has arrived?

6.       Do you know the appropriate time to go to the hospital depending on your birth plan and labor patterns?

7.       Will you have enough energy/wherewithal to remember important details or ask appropriate questions about care?

8.       Is your partner/coach comfortable with vomiting, blood, and other bodily fluids and functions? What about in the case of a cesarean?

9.       Are you and your support team familiar with 'birth lingo' such as posterior, asynclitic, prodromal, meconium, caput, and more?

10.   Do you understand newborn behaviors/common obstacles such as cluster feeding, reversed sleep schedules, or what to do if your baby will only sleep being held?

11. Do you have a plan in place for your partner's return to work?

12. Will you have enough energy to make healthy meals and focus on your healing, especially in the case of a cesarean birth? What about tips to support your mental health?

13. Do you have friends or family that are familiar with breastfeeding, including when to reach out for more help? How about non-judgmental support if you choose to formula feed?

14. Are you familiar with how to make sure your baby is safe in various scenarios? This could cover things such as your car seat location, sleeping arrangements, vaccine schedules/options, baby carriers, etc. 

15. Will you feel confident in your changing role from business professional to new parent? 

If you have answered no to some or most of these questions, you might consider hiring a doula! This list isn't meant to be overwhelming or to induce fear; it is meant as a tool so you can start planning how to best manage your labor and postpartum so you feel empowered and successful out of the gate. If you know most of these answers and feel well prepared, wonderful! We think everyone could benefit from having expertly trained support, but are happy you are feeling calm, confident and supported during this unique time.

If you are interested in meeting one of our doulas to discuss your birth or have other questions, please feel free to email us at info@doulasofcapitolhill.com.

We would love to hear from you!

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